Tuesday, February 23, 2010


One of the key points of President Obama’s health care compromise is that the back room deals he made to get Senators Nelson and Landreaux to agree are no longer part of his new plan. So, he believes that one of his main points of compromise is to eliminate the smelly deals he made to get support. Huh?
It is good news that he is going to stop bribing people to support his plan but that does not make it a point of compromise. He is bragging that he stopped doing something he should not have been doing in the first place. It has nothing to do with fixing the health care system and should not have been part of the original proposal. It does have the benefit that it is something everyone can agree on. Fine – everyone agrees - no bribes. On to the next item.
This opening gambit does demonstrate that this is not an effort at compromise but is an attempt to snooker the American people. It is clearly political theater.

Monday, February 22, 2010


There is a need for the State – for all levels of government - to close their budget gaps. One of the ideas is to close some parks and that has people irate. The chart in the Monday paper shows that – for the parks where figures are available - the revenue was $0.80 per user while the cost per user was just over $2.00. In one case, the cost was over $15.00 for each user and there was no revenue. There is an alternative solution: have the people who are using these parks pay a realistic user fee.
It is not the government’s purpose to provide (almost) free activities for people.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


He is feeling the pain. His new idea is to rescue people who are underwater with their mortgage. Announced in Nevada, he is apparently trying to help Harry.
Anyway, two guys buy houses next door to each other. Same house and they pay the same price. The only difference is that one guy (Mr. Ant) puts down 50% and the other guy (Mr. Grasshopper) gets a 100% mortgage and puts down no money at all. The prices fall and Mr. Grasshopper is underwater; Mr. Ant isn't. Our President's plan would help Mr. Grasshopper but not Mr. Ant. This is a clear display of the Administration's grasp of economics, fairness and knowledge of Aesop's fables. They know nothing about any of them.


Ellis Hennican (Newday guy) and O'Reilly recently were arguing over the proper forum for the terrorist trials. O'Reilly wanted Military courts and Hennican civil courts. O'Reilly noted that polls support the Military courts; Hennican said polls shouldn't determine such things and wanted to give the terrorists various Constitutional rights. Hennican is correct on former and wrong on the latter one. The treatment of enemy combatants in war is not a question that should be determined by popular opinion; nor is it a political issue of Bush vs. Obama. The question is what the properly can be done with a prisoner of war and what rights they do have.

The protections of the U.S Constitution simply do not apply. International (Geneva) conventions indicate that such prisoners have no right to a trial and their confinement ends when the war ends. According to the same source, it is accepted practice to shoot them when captured without a uniform.

Wrong questions lead to wrong answers.

Teachers Union

The recent article in Newsday regarding the Roosevelt charter school exactly defines the debate. The results indicate that the school is successfully educating children and continues to raise the bar. People are banging on the doors to get in and the waiting list is growing.
Yet the President of the NYS Teachers United Teachers complains that more money should be spent on kids. The results are not important to the union; the cost effectiveness is not important to the union; the desire of the parents and the well being of the children are not important to the union. What could it be? Show of hands - who thinks that what he meant, is that the teachers should get more of the public money?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


We are war with Islamic Fundamentalists. They are at war with us and consider their war to be “holy”. There are international agreements which govern such things. When combatants are captured on the battlefield, they can be detained as POWs for the duration of the war, however long that is. Alternatively, if a combatant is captured attempting to commit mayhem in the opposition’s homeland, that combatant is a spy and is subject to military trial and execution.
The debate about where to hold civilian trials is the wrong question.
Wrong questions lead to wrong answers.
I happened to listen to Monica Crowley the other day. She did a segment where she repeatedly called the senior Senator "Senator Sphincter". Made me crazy so I sent her an email:

Talk radio hosts have several responsibilities to their employer, their audience to provide an accurate and informative forum to discuss topics of interest. But the larger responsibility is to demonstrate to the great undecided group the benefits of the free market policies. This is the group that determines elections. Conservative talk radio audiences are growing because increasing numbers of people are looking for alternatives to big government solutions and network media.
But look at what happens:
In a search for alternatives, an independent guy tunes into a conservative talk show like yours. He hears you repeatedly calling Arlen Spector names that might titillate a 4th grader. The obvious conclusion that the independent reaches is that the host is a moron and the cause she represents attracts morons. So why would the independent guy continue to listen?
Your audience is not growing nor will it continue to grow if you continue to pander to the people who are already convinced of the correctness of free market policies. Throwing them raw meat at the expense of getting more converts is counter productive.

You have too much good stuff to say to sink to that level.

No response as yet.


Newsday reports a plan that Suffolk police are being directed to improve communication with non-English speakers. Thanks to the advocacy groups and a Department of Justice order, police now have to take a “Simple Spanish Commands” class and are required to provide written materials in languages other than English. And this is not good enough for these advocates. They even want police to learn more about “why people are coming here”.
This is outrageous and backwards. These advocates and the pandering politicians who support this drivel should be promoting measures to teach their constituents to read and speak English. Encounters with the police aside, it is difficult enough to get a job. Without even minimal English fluency, they are restricted to pulling weeds, washing dishes and digging holes. That their advocates pursue policies that restrict them to these menial jobs allows these “advocates” to maintain control over them and is racist in the extreme.
The majority of people on Long Island have relatives who are immigrants. Their first effort was to learn the language and they received limited government assistance. The result was that the second generation of these immigrants all spoke English.
Politicians who support this racist position should be held to account.


Saw a letter in the paper yesterday. The guy was absolutely correct in making the parallel that both President Roosevelt and President Obama inherited severe economic conditions. Like FDR, Obama’s solution is to re-invigorate the economy through a massive increase in the size of government. He has even convinced some that growing government jobs is the way to go. The information left out of this parallel is that after 6 years of FDR’s government based solutions, he had managed to get the unemployment rate in 1939 all the way down to 19%!
So, why would any one think that government expansion would work this time?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Same thing - Different Response

The majority is rightly irate over the Tiger Woods saga but the most instructive thing about it has been what it tells us about politics. Several years ago there was a similar situation. Then many people defended someone whose actions were arguably even more boorish. These same people who could not find fault with a public official performing sex acts in their own (White) House and lying about it under oath are expressing deep offense at Mr. Woods’ private life.
The conclusion is either that these people are hypocrites, racists or are admitting that they were monumentally wrong the first time around.

Just Dopey

The political posturing over bank fees for overdrafts is an insult to the vast majority of people who do not write checks that overdraw their accounts. Once again, the government is attempting to protect people from the results of doing things that they should not be doing.
And the proposed “solutions” do not make any sense. The proposal is to require that the banks get permission from their customers to pay a check which would over draw the account. The alternative is to bounce the check. This is to save people who write checks on money they don't have from paying overdraft fees.

First, when people write checks they presumably want them to be paid.
Second, if they know they don't have money to cover a check but write it any way, it is a crime.
Third, if a check is not paid it will be returned to the merchant who deposited it along with a returned fee. That certainly will not help businesses as they will get hit with additional bank fees in addition to getting stiffed for the original purchase amount. Then they have to go collect the original amount.

The results of this brilliant bit of populism are that any merchant who accepts checks will have their fee expenses increase, their collection costs increase, and their bad check losses increase. Bank processing costs will increase since they will have to contact people individually, as will the cost of more government reports.

On the other side of the coin, the minority of people who write checks they can’t cover will be saved from the fees resulting from their poor choices. To make up for these losses, merchants and banks will simply raise their prices.
People who do not bounce checks will be paying for the ones who do. Brilliant!

The Best & The Brightest

Somewhere out there is the best CEO in the world. This person has the leadership skills, the imagination, organizational skills and ideas that are needed to make a company successful. This best CEO in the world now has a choice of working for the government at a capped salary or a company in the free market where compensation is based upon ability and results.
Some change is not for the best.

Barney Swings the Other Way

Someday, but perhaps not soon enough, it will be common knowledge that the mortgage mess started when Barney and Co. decided that “everyone should own their home”. For most people, this meant they had to get a mortgage and Fannie and Freddie were the prime sources. Avoiding the debate over whether these agencies should exist at all, they did work well when there were guidelines regarding who was eligible for a mortgage. Things like 20% down, no more than 1/3 of income (which you had to prove) going to the debt, and a good credit history were requirements to get a loan. Barney and crew saw this as an impediment to “everyone” owning their own home. So, he and his friends got the agencies to change (read as eliminate) the guidelines and it became 105% LTV, any credit history, and, no income checks. The Banks made loans on this basis and sold them to the agencies who packaged them into securities (MBS). Remember, loans made according to agency guidelines are backed by the full faith and credit of the US Treasury. So, the banks made these loans and were strongly encouraged to do so by the various regulators. Banks are supposed to make prudent loans and what is (was?) more prudent than a loan guaranteed by the Treasury.

While all this was going on, those Treasury backed Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) backed by loans guaranteed by the Treasury were being traded and carved into various subsidiary investment instruments. Then the bubble bursts, the value of the (now “toxic”) securities plummets and banks are on the brink. Missed that part where the Treasury covered their guarantee and bought back the securities dollar for dollar.

Now Barney wants to eliminate the agencies that he been cheerleading for years. Two weeks before they blew up he is on record as saying that there was no problem. The checks that they sent to him last month must have bounced.

The Line Between Us

In his State of the Union address, President Obama has perfectly defined the Administration’s approach to the current economic situation. The primary proposal is to provide businesses a financial incentive to hire additional employees. No statement could more clearly delineate the difference between a government solution and a market based one. The Administration seems to believe that it would make sense for a business to hire a worker to obtain a $5,000 government grant. That would only be true if the worker made less than $5,000 and the government subsidy continued for as long as the employment.

In the real world, businesses hire more people when more people are needed to make/sell more product to meet demand or to expand markets. As Steve Martin discovered in The Jerk, “It’s a profit deal”. Hiring someone that is not necessary is something only a government would do and only people completely ignorant of the how businesses operate could possibly think would work.